People are in revolt everywhere: Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Greece, the United Kingdom, the New York Occupy movement in the United States – and the list of countries keeps getting longer.
Despite being motivated by different causes and instigated by different groups, the revolts are rupturing the status quo. The rupture delegitimizes the mainstream narrative of the state of the world today. What is emerging around the globe is not another strain of new social movements, nor the return of conventional Leftist politics, nor large-scale “advocacy campaigns” embarked upon by civil society organizations. What we are witnessing around the globe is unruly politics: the masses engaging through spaces outside state and civil society and through a different form of agency.
Unruly politics does not represent a new theoretical construct or a new paradigm; rather, it typifies a different political inquiry that shifts the site of analysis from dynamics, mechanisms and trajectories of contestation (see the work of McAdam et al. on the dynamics of contention) to the spaces through which people revolt.